Games!

Over the last few months, I have discovered that I really, really like board games (and that I am very inconsistent when it comes to posting on this blog, but that’s beside the point). They solve (for me) what is the inherent problem with group “hanging out”: what I can “not doing anything.” This does not apply to “hanging out” that involves great conversations and whatnot, but just the sort where everyone is sitting on various pieces of furniture doing nothing, and you eventually put in a movie just to have something to do.

Board games are excellent because the give one something to do AND still leave plenty of opportunity to have conversations in the midst of the game (which is where TV/movies fail). Not only does a game allow said conversations, it sparks them, giving those playing a common ground upon which to start talking, and breaking the ice. As such, I have begun amassing a considerable collection of games, and am going to take a little time to talk about each of them, their merits and difficulty, in hopes of finding more friends who are nerdy enough to play them with me. Hopefully the information on each game will be helpful in some way…but if not, enjoy the post anyway.  All of the games in this post are ones that I own, so there are some that have been left out (because I don’t have them) and some that are here that I haven’t played yet, so I can’t say much about them.

Acquire:
This is a great game of medium length, and is what Monopoly fails to be. Let me just say that I absolutely hate Monopoly (more on this later). Acquire is basically a game of manipulating the stock market through the building, growing, and merging of various hotel chains. As expected, the one with the most money at the end wins!
Number of players: 2-6
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Time to Play: 45-60 minutes depending on players
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Apples to Apples:
Ah, the quintessential party game. A card with an adjective is played by “the judge” (ie- unforgettable), and each player plays a card with a noun on it (ie- Natalie Cole). The “judge” of that round selects the winner, and the judge moves on to a different player. This game can be fun with the right crowd, but can also be infuriating when played with people of a different mindset from oneself. If, for example, you like to play nouns that are ironic or just funny, playing with a group of literally minded people can drive you insane. Believe me, I know. For all that, it is a good game, and can provide some outrageously funny results…
Number of players: 2-as many as you have the cards (and patience) for
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: depends on how many players, but 20 minutes is a decent estimate
Thought involved (out of 5): 1
Funness Level (out of 5): 2.5

Axis and Allies:
This strategic WWII game is absolutely delightful for people who want an in-depth game requiring much thought, but can take FOREVER! I have only been able to play it once so far, but that game went approximately four hours (at different sittings) to play through only four turns, and that game was relatively short! It mimics very well many of the realities of WWII, and gives the player a shot at rewriting history from the perspective of the US, the USSR, the UK, Germany, or Japan, with similar constraints as those which were really on the leadership of these countries, but with the ability to make different strategic and tactical decisions. One of the neat things about this game is that your team mates are built in- the allies automatically play together against the axis, and there is no need for the treaties that are necessitated by games like Risk.
Number of players: 2-5 (one player may control multiple countries)
Time to Learn: 30-60 minutes
Time to Play: 4 or more hours
Thought involved (out of 5): 5
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

Balderdash:
I have yet to play this since I got it for Christmas, but I hear good things.

Bang/Expansions:
I will explain “Mafia” later in this post, but this game is like an Italian/Cowboy-western card game version of Mafia. Each player is assigned the role of either the Sherriff, a Deputy, an Outlaw, or a Renegade, and each player (except the sheriff) keeps their identity card hidden. While each player can (and should) try to convince other players of what they might be, they are under no obligation to be truthful in their statements.
Each of these roles has a specific goal:
The Sheriff’s goal is to eliminate all the outlaws and renegades- once this is accomplished, the Sheriff wins.
The Deputies win the game if the Sheriff wins the game.
The Outlaws win the game if the Sheriff is killed while one of them still lives.
The Renegade(s) win only if they are the last player left alive.
The game then progresses through the play of different cards that allow you to shoot other players and protect yourself, and continues until one team or another has won.  There are a couple of expansions for this game that affect game play, but not excessively.  This is a great game for mid-sized groups who want to interact and hang out, but have something structured going on during the hanging out.
Number of players: 3-8ish
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Time to Play: 30-45 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Battle Cry!
This game is BY FAR the game that I am happiest that I bought when I did. It is actually very similar to some other games on this list, but because it is out of print, it is both a difficult and expensive proposition to try to obtain a copy. It is basically a tactical (as opposed to strategic, like Risk or Axis and Allies) Civil War game, with one player playing each side of a pre-set battle scenario. It’s a lot of fun, but is fairly restrictive in the people it appeals to, being both a two-player game ONLY and a game based in military history. Within that realm of people, though, this is great fun, because it really gives fairly good historical accuracy for each of these battles and provides players the opportunity to try out their own battle plans.
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 10-15 minutes
Time to Play: 30-45 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 4
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

Battleship
I doubt that this game needs a whole lot of explanation: you place your fleet and try not to let the other player blow you out of the water, all the while trying to sink their fleet. It’s a decent game, but in my experience the lucky will triumph over the logical nearly every time, which is something that drives me crazy in a game.
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: 25-30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

Battlestar Galactica
This is the first game on this list from Fantasy Flight Games, which is fast becoming my favorite maker of board games. This game is, obviously, based off of the excellent 2003 revamp of the classic sci-fi series, but is unlike many of the terrible movie/tv tie-in games in that it is actually a great play. I got it about a week ago, and have played it 4-5 times already with groups of varying size, and it works well with all numbers of players. Part of what is cool about this game is that it is (for the most part) a cooperative game where the players don’t play against each other, but against the game itself. There is a tweak to this, however, in that each player will be dealt a secret loyalty card both at the beginning of the game and half-way through it that either confirms the player as a “human” (playing as part of the majority against the board) or as a “cylon” (playing with the board against the rest of the players). Quite a lot of fun.
Number of players:
Time to Learn: 25 minutes
Time to Play: 1.5-3 hours
Thought involved (out of 5): 4.5
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

Carcassone
This is a very simple tile-laying game that is both easy to learn and not terribly luck-driven. In it, the players basically create a map of medieval-era cities and pastures, farms and chapels. It’s a lot of fun, and fulfilling even if you lose, as you look at the beautiful landscape you have just participated in creating.
Number of players: 2-5
Time to Learn: 5-10 minutes
Time to Play: 20-30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Clue
This game is another of the “classic” American games that had me convinced that board games are all “bored” games, to continue the overuse of a pun. This game is not terribly difficult, not terribly time-consuming, but also not terribly fun.
Number of players: 2-6
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Time to Play: 30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

Diplomacy
This is the only game that I can think of that has absolutely no luck involved. It is basically a map of pre-WWI Europe, and each player is one of the major powers of that era. Through military and economic orders, with mandatory time periods of negotiation and treaty-making between leaders.
Number of players: 7
Time to Learn: 20 minutes
Time to Play: 3-6 hours (estimate)
Thought involved (out of 5): 5
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Disney Trivial Pursuit
Very few things I have ever encountered have humbled my opinion of my own intellect as much as playing the original version of Trivial Pursuit, but this one happens to be focused on a topic of trivia that I am well  versed in, so I enjoy it perhaps a bit more. By the way, never challenge Kassie, Jay or I to this game, or we will destroy you. That’s not a boast, that is a legitimate statement of fact.
Number of players: 2-4
Time to Learn: 1 minute
Time to Play: 30-90 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5): 3.5

Encore
I haven’t gotten to play this yet, but it is supposed to be a team game that is all about how many songs each team can remember that incorporate certain words or themes…can’t wait!

Game of Thrones
Oh my goodness, where do I start? This game is pretty complex (not as bad as Axis & Allies, but that’s not saying much), and can take a while to learn, but is worth it. This game is based off of a fantasy book series, but does an excellent job of combining strategic and tactical elements in a way that simulates medieval power struggles in a fun way.
Number of players: 3-6 with expansions (5 is best for the original, 6 and 4 four the expansions)
Time to Learn: 30 minutes
Time to Play: 2.5-4 hours
Thought involved (out of 5): 5
Funness Level (out of 5): 4.5

Guess Who?
I feel no compulsion to explain this game, since most have played it, but I will say that it is the only “classic” American game that I could play almost limitlessly without getting bored or annoyed.
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 10-15 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

Hedbanz
This is a random game that someone gave me as a kid, and it was kind of fun, but I don’t think we ever actually played it how you were supposed to. The way we played it, it was basically 20 questions about the famous person who was on the card on our head.
Number of players: No idea, probably 5
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 10 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

Life
Another “classic” game, this one is playable, but not half as much fun as the updated version below.
Number of players: 2-4
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 30-60 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 1
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

Life: Twists and Turns
This electronic version of Life is way more fun than the original, in part because of the electronics, in part because the board is way better, and in part because it’s STILL fun to make up a story surrounding the way you play the game, explaining how all of your life circumstances reconcile with each other.
Number of players: 2-4
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: 30-60 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5): 4 (I told you, twice as much fun as the original…)

Mad Gab
Another game I have yet to play…we shall see.

Mao
I LOVE this game, but it only works well with the right group of people. All I can tell you about the game is this: The point of the game is to learn the rules. That’s all I can say.
Number of players: 2-a lot
Time to Learn: Length of the game
Time to Play: 15 minutes per round
Thought involved (out of 5): 4
Funness Level (out of 5): either 0 or 5, depending on who you are. For me? 5

Mafia
This is such a great group game. There will be several people in the group who are in the Mafia, and for them to win, they have to kill off enough townspeople so that the Mafia is the majority of the remaining players. There can be other roles as well, like Doctor, Cop, Lawyer, etc, but all those who aren’t Mafia play together on the Townspeople’s team. Their job is to figure out who the Mafia is and kill them dead.
Gentle game, huh?
Number of players: At least 10
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: Depends on size of group
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Memoir ‘44
This is basically a WWII version of Battle Cry!, but with a nicer board and several expansions so that you can play as America, Germany, Russia, or Japan.
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 10-15 minutes
Time to Play: 30-45 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 4
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

Monopoly/Texopoly
I hate any and all versions of Monopoly. It is a mindless waste of time masquerading as a board game, and it gives all real games a bad name…
Number of players: 2-6ish
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Time to Play: I don’t know. I’ve never played a game that actually reached the end.
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 0

Pirate’s Dice (Liar’s Dice)
This is a great little bluffing game where everyone has 5 dice that they roll under a cup so that only they see them. Then the person who starts bids how many of a single denomination (2-6, 1s are wild) there are out of EVERYONE’s dice. The next person either raises the number of that denomination, the denomination, or calls the last person on their bet. The loser loses a die, and you keep going till only one person has a die left.
Number of players: 2-6
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 3

Quizzard
This game is nothing special in itself, just a bunch of trivia questions, but it comes with an AWESOME piece of equipment: a buzzer system for up to six people! Yay!
Number of players: 2-6
Time to Learn: 1 minute
Time to Play: however long you want
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5) with their questions: 2
Funness Level (out of 5) with other games: 4

Risk
This is the game that started it all. For better or worse, the combination of Greg Worley, Matt Monson, Colby Sheffield and this game are to blame for my love of board games. This game completely rests on whether or not you play with the right people, but if you do, it can be a great way to exorcise all those thoughts of world domination…
Number of players: 2-6 (or 12, in the double board version we invented!)
Time to Learn: 5-10 minutes
Time to Play: 1-3 hours
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Run Yourself Ragged
This game is just a one-player game where you’re trying to move a small metal marble from the beginning through a series of obstacles to the finish line. Compete against your own time, or compete against your friends! Yay!
Number of players: 1
Time to Learn: 2 seconds
Time to Play: If you don’t suck, less than 60 seconds
Thought involved (out of 5): 0
Funness Level (out of 5): 3

Sorry!
This game is one I have very little experience with, but is apparently very similar to Wa-Hoo.

Stratego
This game is almost a very simple chess game. Each player has a variety of different pieces with different abilities and strengths, and is trying to capture their opponents flag. Capture the flag, with none of the paintballs, water guns, or poison ivy!
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: 20-30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 3

Ticket to Ride
The best train-laying game out there! But really, it’s a lot of fun, and you get to build your own railroad running from city to city, across continents. There are several different maps, Europe, the US, Germany, and Switzerland.
Number of players: 2-5
Time to Learn: 5-10 minutes
Time to Play: 60-90 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Wa-Hoo
And the last game for this post, Wa-hoo. This is a game that my family has played for many decades, and has been handed down from generation to generation for at least…three generations now. The point of the game is to move your four marbles around the board to your safe zone without letting the other players jump your marble or get there first.
Number of players: 2-4
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 1
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

And that’s that: a bunch of games to play, ways to put off homework, and things to do during some awesome hanging out with friends. Have fun, and get your game on!

Kyle

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2 responses to “Games!

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